The mystery surrounding this story seems to be taken from a chapter of Sherlock, the successful BBC series based on the famous character of Arthur Conan Doyle that, more than a decade ago, launched actor Benedict Cumberbatch to world fame. But now he is the one investigated, not the investigator, for a strange event that occurred in his London mansion a few weeks ago and that has just come to light. Insults, knives, a cook and three terrified children star in a story that, far from being fiction, has placed the interpreter and his family in the media spotlight and has aroused the concern of the British.
As now published in the UK press, the event occurred several weeks ago, at least a month, but the exact date of the incident has not been released. It all happened when the actor, 46; his wife, theatre director Sophie Hunter, 45; and their three children — Christopher, seven; Hal Auden, five; and Finn, four, were at their north London home, valued at more than four million euros, and began to hear screams coming from the garden. A man walked up to the door of the residence and began shouting insults at the family. "I know you've moved here and I hope it burns," he bellowed. In addition, he tore off one of the plants and threw it against one of the walls of the house, spat on the family's telephone and even tore it off with a kitchen knife.
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The man in question is Jack Bissell, 35, a chef who worked at the Beaumont, a luxurious five-star hotel located in Mayfair, one of the most central and luxurious areas of the British capital. He was chef de partie – that is, one of the line chefs who are in charge of a product or a specific elaboration – in the establishment for two periods, between 2017 and 2018 and also between 2019 and 2020. It is unknown if he had any relationship with Cumberbatch, Hunter or his family.
"Naturally, the whole family was absolutely terrified and they thought that this man was going to enter their house and hurt them," said a source close to the family to the British media that have given the news, such as the Daily Mail, which advanced it exclusively on the afternoon of Monday, May 29. "Luckily he never got this far. Benedict and Sophie have spent many sleepless nights, worried about becoming a target again. The fact that it was a targeted assault makes it that much scarier."
Martin Freeman and Benedict Cumberbatch, protagonists of the series 'Sherlock'. BBC
It has not been known when Bissell's intrusion took place, but on May 10 he went to the courts of Wood Green, a neighborhood in north London, to testify, as he has revealed now when the media have been able to access the sentence. He did not bring defense attorneys and pleaded guilty. His sentence has consisted of a fine of 250 pounds (almost 290 euros) and a restraining order for three years from the Cumberbatch-Hunter family and the area in which they live. Bissell did not clarify the motives that led him to attack the home of the two-time Oscar nominee, but his intentions were clear. Apparently, before the raid he bought two pita loaves from a nearby store and shouted at the shopkeeper that he was going to raid the family home and that he was going to "burn it to the ground". The cook has a record, because he was arrested in 2015 for protesting against the British military intervention in Syria, in addition to having been convicted of theft, for three crimes against property, for one of public order and for another one of drugs.
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Neither the Doctor Strange singer nor his family have appeared in the media in recent weeks. The actor is these days in New York filming a new series, Eric, a thriller for Netflix where he gives life to a father who is looking for his missing son, and has not spoken about the incident other than through that family spokesman. But this is not the first time he has suffered a similar incident. In 2004, on a shoot in South Africa, he was kidnapped by six men who wanted to lock him in a trunk. "It taught me that you come into this world the same way you leave: alone. It made me want to live a somewhat less ordinary life," he explained then, as reported by The Telegraph. In addition, in 2015 a woman, a fan of the Sherlock Holmes novels bordering on obsession, began to leave red ribbons in her car and in her house, the same one that has been assaulted now – and that she had just bought – and to which the woman went on at least two occasions. The police had to intervene and forbid him to contact the actor, and he had to reinforce his security while performing in the role of Hamlet in a crowded Barbican theater in London.